Protecting your headlights is a multi-faceted task. You have to be aware of both physical damage and the less considered UV damage. Yes, that wonderful, life-giving ball of gas can be the worst thing for your headlights in the dark. And remember that preventative care is also a great way to maintain and protect your headlights from damage.
Safeguarding against physical damage
Headlight covers are made of a hardened plastic or, in some cases glass material. As you may well know, neither of these materials are particularly durable when physically struck. Protecting them from physical damage can be fairly simple. Here are a few simple tips:
Be careful how you park your vehicle!
We realize that the rare open space near the front of Hop’s Burger Bar’s parking lot during lunch may seem enticing, but it just might be open for a reason – the cars on either side are parked too close together. Narrow parking spaces often lead to broken headlights. Play it safe, take the further parking place and save yourself a headache and money!
Be mindful of who you’re following.
This bit of advice is applicable for safe driving in general. Avoid driving too close to trucks carrying a load of dirt, rocks, garbage etc. You never know when something might come loose and crack your windshield, chip your hood or shatter your headlight!
Protecting against the environment
Take a second to think of the last time you walked around your car, knelt down and inspected your headlights? The average person can’t remember the last time they did so. We’re not saying to do so every week, but be mindful that your headlights will, over time, grow cloudy and yellow, dimming the beams and creating a hazard. Here are a few contributing factors that lead to yellowed headlights.
As wonderful a product as road salt is, saving countless lives each year, it can take a toll on your vehicle’s undercarriage, paint job and – you guessed it – headlights. It might seem frivolous and a waste, but washing your vehicle during winter is anything but.
Just as with any clear material, constant exposure to airborne pollution will eventually build up. Next time you think about tailing that little old lady that’s going ten under the speed limit, think about the exhaust from her tailpipe that might be washing over your headlights.
UV rays from the sun will yellow your headlights. Consider a piece of notebook paper left in the back seat of a car for a month. It slowly yellows under the constant light and heat. The same happens to your headlights. While it does happen at a much slower pace for your headlights, how often do you check them for sun damage? Probably not often. So it can happen before you know it!
Preventative Measures and Repair
We’ve already discussed a few measures for avoiding physical headlight damage, so let’s delve into preventing environmental damage – as well as what to do when the damage is already done.
- Avoid, if at all possible, parking where the sun is shining on your headlights for a prolonged period of time. Park in a garage, or under the shade of a tree (but don’t forget to pick leaves from your windshield! Save the windshield wipers!).
- Rinse your headlights every three to four months with soap designed for vehicles. This helps prevent pollution and dirt build up.
- Apply UV protection. We don’t mean put sunglasses on your headlights, but there are products that can be applied to help reflect some of those insidious UV rays.
Repairing Your Headlights
Finally, repair. There comes a point where your headlight simply has too much build up, leaving you, and those around you, at risk. If a little soap and a soft cloth aren’t enough to clean it up, let us help, it’s worth having an expert take a look to prevent additional damage.